Bright Spot Fundraising

Tried and tested fundraising techniques
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The power of enthusiasm – 3 ways to strengthen it

dreamstime_s_66581394‘So how are you?’


It was Monday morning and I was hastily preparing flip charts as the group of arrived behind me and I heard the familiar question. As one of the fundraisers I was about to train responded, I found my attention drawn to the unusual conviction of her reply.


‘I feel absolutely great. I went on the Spring Institute and it was amazing…I came back absolutely buzzing… in fact I couldn’t get to sleep on Friday night so I just sat at my computer writing up all my ideas…’


When I turned around, it was immediately obvious who had been speaking. She was not talking now, but her upbeat mood was evident from her posture and body language.


The reason I feel bound to share this with you is the effect that her enthusiasm (I’m going to call her Emma) had on the rest of the room. Actually, the whole team was pretty hungry to improve their fundraising skills, but Emma’s energy was on another level. Although it transpired that she was one of the more junior members of the team, on that day she was in fact a leader, by which I mean she had a positive impact on everyone around her.


If you’re thinking that this person’s mojo might have been irritating, I can confirm that it wasn’t, I think for two reasons. For one, she was able to keep rapport with the rest of us. She remained interested in everyone around her and what they had to say; And secondly, her enthusiasm was absolutely real, rather than fake.


The truth is, though this might sound a bit un-British, in both work and personal life, enthusiasm is an invaluable emotion to nurture.


When I have led teams, I have found that colleagues with big enthusiasm but a mediocre skill level have been more valuable than those who are very skilful but unenthusiastic. (Of course ideally you want both, but it’s far easier to increase your skill level if you are enthusiastic).


The intention of this blog is not to urge you to suddenly decide to ‘be more enthusiastic’. Even if this were possible, the suggestion would probably be annoying and counter-productive.


So if finding our enthusiasm is so valuable to fundraising success, but it’s sometimes difficult to turn on it on, what can we do to increase it?

  1. Get in that environment. Go and do something that’s likely to make you more enthusiastic – Emma could not help but exude such positive energy because she had just come back from an inspiring environment at the CASE Spring Institute in Education Fundraising. And fundraisers who have taken part in the Major Gifts Mastery Programme feed back to me that apart from the strategies they learn, it is also the regular access to an encouraging and inspiring environment that helps them take more bold action, which in turn generates more gifts. So what conference, course or Special Interest Group talk could you apply for today?
  1. Spend time with an upbeat colleague. Even if right now you have done everything you can to persuade your budget holder to let you go to an inspiring learning programme or conference, at the very least, who do you know that usually exudes positive energy? Today, go and talk to them or schedule a coffee for later. When there is rapport, the person who is more certain of something, over time influences the other – so spending time with this person will make it easier for you to re-light / strengthen your spark.
  1. Defy the cultural conditioning. Give yourself permission to be positive / excited about something. For most children, showing excitement is natural. But when most of us were teenagers, continuing to show this enthusiasm would have risked criticism from the rest of the group, so we soon learned to tone it down. If someone asked us how we felt about something it was safer to say it was ‘not bad’ than ‘fantastic’.


The trouble is, if you say ‘not bad’ or ‘fine’ enough times, it actually dampens the emotion you feel. The antidote is to allow yourself greater precision with the words you use, just as Emma did. By truthfully voicing her excitement, the emotion itself became reinforced, in an authentic way, which in turn made it easier for her to exert such a positive influence on herself and her colleagues.


Attention all Major Donor Fundraisers – the early bird saving of £500 for the Major Gifts Mastery Programme is only available for the next two weeks.

To find out more or apply for your free 30 minute Major Donors Coaching call, (normal price £150) email


On May 3, 2016 / Uncategorized

Client Testimonials 
‘What I love about the Major Gifts Mastery Programme is it’s so practical. I’ve seen loads of monetary value come from what we learned, including a gift of £200,000 from a trust that came about because of the learnings in the course. If you want to raise more money, I’d urge you to do the Programme.’

Paul McKenzie, Head of Major Giving and Corporate Partnerships, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

Rob's outstanding pitch training helped me secure a partnership worth £380,000 over three years. One of the crucial things he helped me do was to better understand the psychology of who I needed to convince, and use this to craft my influencing strategies, structure and stories to help them say YES. If you need to win more partnerships, I would absolutely recommend you get on Rob's training.

Karen Arkell, Senior Officer, Corporate Partnerships, Teach First

'We recently had a pitch we just had to win. I'm absolutely clear that what we learned from Rob helped us get the deal, which is a partnership that's going to raise £1 million. Rob is better at helping you influence your donor to get the gift than anyone I've met.

Ben Swart, Head of Corporate New Business, NSPCC

Rob's exceptional training has taken our programme to the next level. One example was a colleague re-connecting with a lapsed donor on the phone, resulting in a £100k+ gift; his first in four years. I would absolutely recommend Rob's training programme as an invaluable investment for any fundraising team.

Victoria Stephenson, Head of Major Donors, UNICEF UK

Following the course, Major Gift Fundraisers at the NSPCC increased gift income by 29%

Citation by UK Skills National Training Award

We're currently involved in our largest ever Campaign, with a target of £500 million, so we've invested in the best training available. Rob's courses have been an essential part of our annual King's Knowledge learning programme for the last five years, because he continues to help us get outstanding results.

Gemma Peters, Director of Development, King's College London

I’ve found the Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme hugely helpful already. It’s helped me in so many ways, but as an example, I applied one of Rob’s pitching techniques and it completely wowed the panel, and has resulted in a partnership worth over £100,000.

Kieran Cornwall, Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager, Cystic Fibrosis Trust

I was on the pitch team to win a partnership worth £1,000,000. I was determined to pitch to the best of my ability. Rob helped me present with confidence, persuasiveness and enthusiasm, enabling me to connect with the pitch panel – and we won the partnership.

Kirsty Lawson, Corporate Account Team Manager, (Head of) at Alzheimer’s Society

Rob showed my corporate fundraising team lots of excellent new business strategies. The techniques made a made a MASSIVE difference to our financial results, including helping to win a partnership worth £2 million

Jess Coombs, Head of Corporate Fundraising, Teenage Cancer Trust and formerly at Action for Children